UCLA greats Bill Walton and Sinjin Smith will be inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday, March 21 in the fourth annual event held at the Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry.
Walton, at 6-11, 235 pounds, is one of the all-time great centers in the game of basketball. At UCLA under John Wooden, he led the Bruins to two NCAA Championships (1972/1973), a record setting 88-game winning streak and was a three-time (1972-74) consensus All-American and national Player of the Year. In UCLA history, Walton is the school's No. 1 rebounder (1972-74, 1,370, 15.7rpg) and No. 11 scorer (1,767, 20.3ppg). The No. 1 selection in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers, Walton played13 years in the NBA, and is the only player in league history to win the NBA Finals MVP (leading Portland to the championship in 1977), the regular season Most Valuable Player honor (1978 with Portland) and the NBA Sixth Man Award (helping Boston win the NBA title in 1986). Walton, whose Bruin jersey No. 32 is retired, has also been inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame (1984), Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame (1993) and GTE Academic All-America Hall of Fame (1994) and in 1996 was named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players of all-time.
Smith, one of the record-setting volleyball players in collegiate and beach history, as a freshman at UCLA in 1976 helped lead UCLA to an NCAA title and as a senior in 1979, he directed the Bruins to an unbeaten (30-0) NCAA Championship season and was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. As a Bruin, he was a three-time All-Conference player, a two-time All-American and led UCLA to a four-year overall record of 85-9. In beach volleyball, he and partner Randy Stoklos ruled for more than a decade. The pair won a record 114 open beach tournaments, earned more than $1.6 million and was responsible for the tremendous popularity of the sport. A member of the 1980 (U. S. boycott) and 1996 U. S. Olympic teams, Smith, whose UCLA jersey No. 22 was retired in 1992, has been inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame (1991) and the Volleyball Hall of Fame (2003).
Joining Walton and Smith into the 2010 class are pro football greats Merlin Olsen (Los Angeles Rams) and Oakland Raider standouts Jim Otto and Fred Biletnikoff, tennis great Billie Jean King and honored KCBS Channel 2 sportscaster Jim Hill. Also in the 2010 class is high jumper Dwight Stones, who attended UCLA as a freshman in 1972, placing third in the high jump on the Bruins' NCAA championship team. Stones then transferred to Long Beach State and following his collegiate career, would go on to become one of the greatest high jumpers in U. S. history. In his 16-year T & F career, Stones won 19 national championships, was a three-time World record holder and a two-time Olympic bronze medalist.
Walton and Smith join seven other Bruins in the California Sports Hall of Fame - 2007 - Jackie Robinson (baseball), John Wooden (basketball), Rafer Johnson (T &F), Jackie Joyner Kersee (T&F); 2008 - UCLA Bruins men's basketball program (team category); 2009 - Ann Meyers Drysdale (basketball), Mike Powell (T & F), Karch Kiraly (volleyball).
On March 21, the California Sports Hall of Fame event is an all-day affair, starting with a golf tournament (registration 9 a.m.) at the Industry Hills Golf Club. Following the golf, the induction ceremony will take place at the Pacific Palms Resort, starting with a 5 p.m. reception and dinner at 7 p.m. For more information, call 909-481-3541 or go to www.californiasportshalloffame.org.